Seaside or Mud-side, check the Tide

Nelson, when we arrived, was surrounded by mudflats… or so I thought. All along the road, mud and more mud between us and the sea. Boats were tied with chains to the mud. Docks were built 12′ above the mud. Other than the mud, the town was similar to a lot of sea-side towns. There were many tourist shops, nautical themed restaurants, and a few large parks. Nelson seemed nice enough, but nothing extraordinary.


The sunset over the mud was beautiful and we enjoyed it as it lingered late, turning many shades of gold, and peach and pink, eventually fading into the deep blue of the early night.


I woke in the middle of the night, I could hear waves crashing, and they seemed close by. The evening before, I couldn’t hear them at all. It was dark but there was a little gleam of the moon, and the water was definitely closer- the tide had come in. It had seemed that there was mud coast yesterday. It’s not that I’m unfamiliar with tides, but one that reached so far surprised me.


In the morning, the sea had retreated again. I told Taylor about the loud waves. He didn’t seem bothered or excited. I know, you all thought he would be gung-ho for tidal patterns, but, you were wrong. We went for a walk along the beach. It turned out to be clay-like with distinctive wave patterns in it (you can see an example below). Even where the sand was dry and loose it still clumped strangely under our feet.


We took our time at our campground. It was a Holiday Park. These are the luxurious campgrounds, the kind with hot showers, kitchens and sometimes internet access. We stay at these every once in a while, I know, you envy our travel style. We had lunch and watched the tide come in. I was astonished at how far, and how fast the water came in. We drove through town later that day and everywhere the mudflats (which they weren’t actually) had a new glitteringly crystal blue sea water instead. ¬†It was beautiful. Nelson shone blue and stunning in the sun. We had a few more days playing and working in the city. I would be happy to go back to the usually beautiful city, depending on the tide.


I’ve read up a little bit on tides since my encounter with the muddy or beautiful city. It turns out tides are complicated and I am not a physicist. ¬†Francois Arago was a physicist, and he called the study of tides the tomb of human curiosity. Yes, I heard that on SYSK. Essentially, it comes down to the gravitational pull of the moon, the sun and the earth, and their orientation to one another. The distance of water moving in and out from shore can be dramatically different based on the surrounding geography. I have not yet found an explanation for the far-out tide in Nelson, but when I do, I’ll update you. OR if you already know, email me, please.